Friday, September 29, 2023

Islam Is Flexible; Muslims Have Made It Hard

By Moin Qazi, New Age Islam 29 September 2023 An authentic saying , attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, says: "Religion is very easy, and whoever overburdens himself in his Religion will not be able to continue that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near perfection and receive the good tidings you will be rewarded." (Bukhari Fath-ul-Bari, Page 102, Vol 1) In the above hadith or prophetic saying, Religion refers to the broader notion of Islam, that is, Deen, a complete code encompassing every facet of human life. Deen comprises Imaan (faith), Islam (practice) and Ihsan (a sense of social responsibility borne out of religious convictions). Islam emphasises moderation and balance in all matters related to faith, religious practices and social responsibilities. This universal principle is enshrined in the holy Qur'an: "And God has not laid upon you any hardship in matters of religion" (Q 22:78) God Intends For You Ease The Qur'an reads: "God intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship." (Q 2:185) The Qur'an reinforces this message again: "God does not burden a soul beyond its capacity." (Q 2:286) A unique feature of the Qur'an is that while it spells out an ethical code, a moral path, a political system, a social norm, an economic order and a legal philosophy, it also presents in the life of Prophet Mohammad the practical exposition of the theoretical models contained in it. There is hardly any aspect of life that the Qur'an has not touched upon. In a similar vein, the Prophet's life penetrates with remarkable versatility every domain of human life, both public and private. This striking parallelism between the message of the Qur'an and the life of Prophet Muhammad indicates that it was to illustrate beyond doubt to every follower of the Qur'an that the pattern of life enunciated in the holy book can be practiced by every individual. The Prophet was, in fact, a human incarnation of the Qur'an. For what we find a wonderful philosophy in the static words of the Qur'an, we have a dynamic living counterpart in the life of Prophet Muhammad. The Prophet once told his close companion Abdullah ibn Amr: "Have I heard right that you fast every day and stand in prayer all night?" Abdullah replied: "Yes, O Messenger of God." The Prophet said: "Do not do that. Fast, as well as eat and drink. Stand in prayer, as well as sleep. This is because your body has a right upon you, your eyes have a right upon you, your wife has a right upon you, and your guest has a right upon you." (Al-Bukhari, 127) While urging his followers to prepare themselves for life hereafter, the Prophet also admonished them to perform the necessary functions an individual is called upon to live a proper life. The Prophet believed that an ideal life had the right combination of the essential elements of life: one that could enable him to lead a proper and contented life on earth, the other which could provide salvation to him. The essence of his message is contained in his well-known saying: "Do for this world as if thou were to live a thousand years and for the next as if thou were to die tomorrow." The Prophet stated: "For a prudent person, he must have some moments; Moments when he should commune with God, Moments when he should be reflecting on the mysteries of creation, And also moments spared for the acquisition of the wherewithal." In other words, a faithful servant of God must apportion his time so that a part of it is spent in communing with God through prayers. A portion is spent making a self-audit of oneself, reflecting on the mysteries of creation by seeking knowledge of the various secrets in nature and acquiring the necessary wherewithal for fulfilling one's needs. The Qur'an spells out a life which is a harmonious blend of the otherworldly and mundane aspects. The synthesis is attempted so that both these aspects are so organically related that one gives meaning and content to the other. The Qur'an recognises two essential obligations of an individual: one to God and the other to society. Islam disapproves of asceticism and a life of self-denial. The Qur'an also disapproves of the other extreme of lifestyle - luxurious and pleasure-seeking. It calls for moderation in all activities to achieve a complete and fuller life. The Prophet was convenient in his approach and guidance to his companions. Once, the Prophet saw a wretched, ugly man with torn clothes. He asked the man the reason for his pathetic state. The man replied: "O Messenger of God, I prefer giving all in charity, contenting myself with this shabby dress." The Prophet disapproved: "Not like that; God likes to see the traces of his benefit on his slave!" The Qur'an forbids: "O children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer, eat and drink, but waste not by excess, for Allah loves not wasters. Say: 'Who has forbidden the beautiful gifts of Allah which He has produced for His servants and the things clean and pure which He has provided for sustenance." (Q7:31-32) It is the human preference for riches that the Qur'an cautions against and urges us to maintain a balance between extravagance and parsimony. This is in recognition of human nature, which has the dual impulses of compassion and an inherent love of wealth. In this way, Islam's religious teachings counsel temperance and prudence, whereas Islam's spiritual teachings urge selflessness and generosity. The balance between the body and spirit, personal and civic responsibilities, and spirituality and the mundane affairs of life is a beautiful guidance bequeathed by Islam to humanity. The Qur'an explains that a perfect model of religious life is not based on mere performance of the rituals. It also has to consider the duties incumbent on an individual in his relationship with the community from which he draws sustenance. In today's strife-torn world with its bewildering challenges, there is no better-guiding wisdom than what the Prophet told his companions: "You live in such a time that if any of you abandon even a tenth of what you are urged, you will be ruined. But a time will come when they will be saved if a person fulfils only a tenth of what is enjoined." (Tirmidhi, Book 34: Fitan (Sedition), Section 79, No. 2267) ----- Moin Qazi is the author of the bestselling book, Village Diary of a Heretic Banker. He has worked in the development finance sector for almost four decades. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

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